Friday, July 14, 2006

Face-Lift 117

Guess the Plot

Sex, Drugs, and Show Tunes

1. A home for the elderly is thrown into chaos when the ladies can not afford their new prescription medicines and must turn to karaoke and prostitution to make ends meet.

2. The glamorous yet ultimately tragic life of Dorothy, a "fag hag" who follows her heart to the wrong side of the rainbow, is detailed in this touching faux-memoir.

3. Garrett Hoyt has finally made his dream move to New York City, after a lifetime of moldering away in Little Rock. So what's he going to do now? Let's put it this way: he's not here for the museums.

4. Drag queen detectives Geraldo Fernandez and Maximillian pursue a serial killer through the seedy underworld of New York's piano bar scene.

5. The behind-the-scenes drama unfolds as Mick Jagger and Grace Slick rehearse a Broadway revival of The King and I in the year 2017, financed by Spielberg.

6. Gay rock-n-rollers AnälTäp overdose on Cosmos, flaunt their short hair, and decorate hotel rooms, until they are sued into obscurity for plagiarizing Rent.

Original Version

Dear Mr. Agent,

Dorothy Abramson has been a "fag hag" as long as she can remember. [Suddenly Evil Editor can't unload the image of the Sea Hag, who used to torment Popeye. I'm thinking this is nothing like that.] In college, she played side-kick to the most flamboyant boys on campus. In high school, she outed the school quarterback. Even as far back as infancy, she and her father bonded over their love of movie musicals. [Why, even in the womb (1st trimester!) she found herself singing along with her mother to the Man of La Mancha soundtrack.] [Whether one can have a love of movie musicals in infancy depends, I suppose, on your definition of infancy. I might go with "Even in her youth," or "childhood."

In many ways, Dorothy's life has been too fabulous for words -- [but I'll give you a few anyway:] great friends, better lovers, and plenty of high-grade cocaine. [Is this a bio of Dorothy or of Evil Editor?] But that's only half the story: whether they walk out in anger, marry their lovers, or slit their wrists, Dorothy's beloved boys have a nasty habit of leaving her broken-hearted and alone. Looking back over a life filled with lovers but lacking in true love, Dorothy wonders exactly how much happiness she has sacrificed to her neurosis.

Sex, Drugs, and Showtunes is an 83,000-word faux-memoir detailing the glamorous yet ultimately tragic life of a girl who follows her heart to the wrong side of the rainbow. I would be happy to provide you with a complete manuscript. A SASE is enclosed for your reply, or you may contact me at ___________ .

Thank you for your time and consideration.



I don't see problems here. I assume it ends with Dorothy thinking over her life decisions? If, however, there's an actual climactic event/scene that the book progresses toward, it wouldn't hurt to hint at that.


Anonymous said...

Author: you need to put an 'umph' in it! Dirty details, like... Dorothy falls for the scarecrow, while he is in love with the tin man! Crestfallen, she wows to finish with love... Just then, lion and the wizard propose, in no uncertain terms. Dorothy runs, and breaks a spiked hill on her ruby slipper, crying, 'there's no place like home'.

All together now: 'Somewhere, over the rainbow'...

Anonymous said...

Call me an idiot if you like, but could someone tell me what the hell a "fag hag" is? I'd google it, but I'm afraid it would just lead me to a bunch of gay porn sites.

Anonymous said...

Dear writer,

Although I'm so left-wing that if I were a duck, I'd only be able to fly in circles, I don't think I'm imagining things when I say that some of the wording of this query might not sit well with someone who is gay or gay-friendly. I thought it a bit of an overstatement to classify liking gay men, even romantically, as a "neurosis". It's more like a fetish or a predilection, isn't it? Saying that Dorothy ended up on the "wrong" side of the rainbow is funny, but could be seen in the same way, as subtle condemnation - and the fact that her life is ultimately tragic could be as well.

That might pose problems as far as selling the book is concerned, because there's a potentially large part of your target audience: gay and gay-friendly. If the tone of the book is the same as the query letter, an editor might be worried about the commercial potential.

Also, you might want to hint at how Dorothy is apparently winding up with gay men as lovers (you don't say explicitly that she does, but that's what is implied). Sure, it actually happens, but a person completely outside gay culture might consider that a logical stumbling block. How well your query letter is received could depend on how worldly the reader of it happens to be.

Good luck with it, however; it sounds like it could be a fun read.

Anonymous said...

could someone tell me what the hell a "fag hag" is?

Assuming you are not putting us on...

The character of Grace Adler on "Will & Grace" is one (albeit a very romanticized one). Generally speaking, a fag hag is a woman who likes to hang out with gay men, usually having an extremely close friendship with one gay man in particular. Fag hags are stereotyped as unattractive women who use their gay friends as "safe" objects for their romantic desires. Like all stereotypes, sometimes it is true and sometimes it isn't. A famous real-life fag hag is Kathy Griffin, who happens to be a fairly attractive woman.

The word for a straight man who plays a corresponding role with a lesbian is "dutch boy" (because of where he wants to stick his finger, if you know what I mean, and I think you do). As far as I know, no dutch boys actually exist, but that is what they would be called if they did.

Regarding whether googling the phrase "fag hag" returns a bunch of gay porn sites, I've bravely performed this experiment for you and the answer is no. "Fag" is probably not a word pornsite creators think will draw in a lot of gay customers. No, that would be "straight men."

Okay, class is over. Have fun in Utah or wherever...

Anonymous said...

anonymous 2:57, try

Lightsmith said...

I would respectfully disagree with Whitemouse regarding toning down the query/novel to avoid offending a certain audience. Gay men adore a tragic heroine (see Judy Garland). They also go in for self-deprecating humor. I mean, the term "fag hag" itself is offensive on several levels, but it is still used frequently in the gay community and is mostly viewed as being camp and humorous.

I think this book has potential for crossover appeal to the type of woman who liked "Sex & the City." As long as that audience can relate to the central character, they might go for it. Admittedly, this novel sounds a lot more hardcore than S&TC, but there are similarities. (Really! The central character is like Carrie Bradshaw if her life had gone horribly wrong.)

Overall, I found this query really refreshing. I believe that agents will request a look based on the query, which sounds professional and intriguing. There is definitely a market for this book--a niche market, but a market nonetheless. Good luck to you, author!

P.S. Great title!

P.P.S. And no magic portals!

Anonymous said...

Wow - I could almost break into a heart-wrenching chorus of "I Will Survive" - this sounds like it would be an interesting faux-memoir were it not for the downer ending - can't she find happiness after all? I mean, what's not to like and/or why not like it? If our girl has done this *since high school* maybe she should learn to squeeze some happiness out of it.
After all, maybe you only go around once, so shouldn't you enjoy the ride?

PS - Thanks, anonymous, for "Dutch Boy" - can't get that picture - in a bob with a paintbrush - outta my head.

Anonymous said...

Wow. And here I thought it meant the main character was wizened from too much smoking.

This and Closed Legs Don't Get Fed should be reminders that subcultures are subcultural because not everyone gets their slang; don't let yourself lose an opportunity because an agent or editor doesn't know what the hell you're talking about.

Daisy Bateman said...

I agree with altar boy (an Astro City fan, by any chance?)- I don't think that you are going to alienate a majority of gay men- or the women who love them- with this premise. It's no condemnation to say that Dorothy is on the wrong side of the rainbow; there may be a pot of gold here, but it's not for her. And consistantly falling for gay men, while perhaps not a neurosis itself, could definitely be a symptom of some kind of intimacy issues.

All in all, this is one of the most appealling queries I've read here.

Kathleen said...

I think the second paragraph could be cleaned up a bit. So her gay friends are also her "great lovers"? then wouldn't they be bi-sexual? and are her great lovers the same boys who are leaving her to marry their lovers? Are they maryring men or women? Does that mean that they had other lovers than Dorothy? Or was Dorothy not a lover too? And why can't they stay friends after marriage?

I wouldn't use "neurosis" either. I wouldn't use "fetish" or "prediliction" though. What about "how much happiness she has sacrificed for her lifestyle."

eh, I guess "lifestyle" is trite at this point. But something like that.

Blaine D. Arden said...

I've been called a fag hag, though my friends also call me a gay guy in a woman's body.
I was already happily married (and had two kids) before I met my gay friends, so it's safe to say I've never actually fallen for a gay man (unless one of my childhood crushes turned out to be gay),and I certainly don't use them as a safety net for my romantic desires (I have a husband for those ;) ). We do, however, gossip about men, even if their taste is vastly different from mine.'
From what I've read, I think Wikipedia's description fits me better than Anonymous the second's.

As for the query, I don't think it's meant to be insulting or denegrating. I have to admit that I couldn't get the fag hag from the British sitcom 'Gimme, gimme, gimme' out of my head while reading it.

s.w. vaughn said...

Woot! How intriguing to see a novel about a fag-hag. Color me interested!

Anonymous said...

Love that line, 'the wrong side of the rainbow'....

My daughter's longtime university roommate and now frequent travel buddy is gay. The presence of a dedicated live-in ballroom-dance partner was, she said, worth the intermittent hassle of his screaming hissies when she accidentally washed his intimate purple silk apparel with their other roommate's fast-food uniform of similar hue.

I doubt many gay men would have a problem with this storyline, although some women who identify with Dorothy might well resent the implication that they're wasting their lives by being friends with witty, well-dressed men who dance extremely well.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to EE and everyone else for your kind and thoughtful responses.

For the record, I'm in no way suggesting that *all* fag hags are tragic or neurotic or obsessed. My Dorothy takes her fag hag persona a few serious steps beyond Grace from Will and Grace. ;)

To find out exactly where she goes wrong... Well, you'll have to read the book! Unless no one picks it up, in which case I'll just tell you.

Anonymous said...

I paraphrase,

Damsel in distress: "Oh, Daddy, I'm an opium fiend, and I'm with child, and I'm in love with a poet named Shelly who's a famous whoopsie! And Mother didn't die--I killed her!"

Father: "Bah, shut your mouth, you pregnant, junkie, fag-hag!"

From Blackadder III, which was how many years ago? Actually, at this point, I'd have thought they would have come up with a new name for it...

Anonymous said...

It sounds like Will & Grace minus the comedy and replaced by cocaine. That's always fun. Would it have a pink cover? or would it be "James Frey'd"? No way I'd bite on this book. Sounds like vacuous chick-lit, falling way short of any kind of charm that the genre lays claim to.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 8:37 AM:

Well, that was rude.

It doesn't sound like chick lit at all. Have you read any chick lit? Apparently not, given that you slam the genre at the same time as you slammed the book, and didn't spot that the words "ultimately tragic" generally don't apply to chick-lit.

Besides, I think this book sounds like it has plenty of room for comedy.

Not so much for a person with no sense of humour, of course.

Anonymous said...

What about Eunuchs? Would a fag hag be friends with me? I'd buy the book!!!

(efagd-right on topic, isn't it though?)

P.S. nut, please stop singing, you... have a terrible voice.

Anonymous said...

(Assuming you are not putting us on...)
Some of us don't hang with gay people, don't watch Will and Grace (cause it sucks) and wouldn't know gay slang if it bit us on the ass.
The person asked a legit question, hell I lived in the bay area and I never heard the term "Fag Hag". Learn something new everyday.

(Okay, class is over. Have fun in Utah or wherever...)

Talk about PMS! Get over yourself. Not everybody from outside the Bay area is stupid because they don't understand gay slang.

Dear author: I think the story sounds interesting. I would read it and I live in the middle of the midwest!

Anonymous said...

The percentage of gay folks that would refuse to buy the book for one reason or another is very low. In fact, if every gay person refused to buy the book there wouldn't be much of an impact.

Anonymous said...

I sooooooooo wanted it to be #4!

Drag queen detectives are severely underrepresented in modern fiction.